Whether you’re an independent meeting planner or an event planner working for a large organization, eventually it happens to everyone–your event marketing efforts just aren’t paying off. When this happens, sometimes the only option is to pull the plug and cancel the event. However, by staying alert and taking action earlier, some events and event marketing efforts can be salvaged.
Set yourself up for success by making events scalable.
Especially, if you are running an event for the first time, it is hard to predict the response. It is important to make your event scalable. There are several ways to do this.
- Select a venue that has function spaces of various sizes. Be candid with the venue and build the option to scale down to a smaller room into your contract.
- Work with a hotel chain that has properties at different price points in your area. Build the option to move to a more affordable sister property into your contract.
- Never be afraid to “make a move” if the chain has a suburban property that would be a good fit for a smaller group. It could save your event.
- Work with the venue to be creative with menu options so that you can scale your budget up or down. Identify these options up front.
- Come to clear agreements about room blocks and release dates. Sync registration checkpoints like early-bird deadlines with these dates so that, at least a week ahead of the release dates, you know if you have to release some rooms.
- Don’t commit to speakers with high fees until you know you have the registration to support this.
Be prepared to switch gears.
- Reduce your ticket price if the cost savings through some of the above strategies make this a viable option.
- If social media marketing is not drawing enough registration, perhaps you need to go “old school” with telephone or print campaigns. In fact, design your budget to accommodate the need to use alternative methods of delivery.
- Sometimes making an event shorter can draw a larger crowd.
Enlist the aid of sponsors and speakers to market the event.
In fact, build this into your contracts. Ask speakers and sponsors to reach out to their own networks. Involve them in online chats, video interviews and webinars to spark interest.
Reach out to potential participants and have candid conversations about what will make the event more compelling.
Last year’s participants who have not re-registered can give you valuable insight into how to improve your event.
Collaborate and brainstorm with your speakers, facilitators and sponsors. They may be able to help you come up with a brand new design and marketing strategies to ensure the success of your event.
A Case Study: [CRTL]+[ALT]+[DEL]
The recent Future of Events conference that was scheduled for August 2016, has many lessons for event and meeting industry professionals. When the event was cancelled, Aaron Kaufman, Liz King and Dahlia El Gazzar conferred online. Within six hours they came up with a groundbreaking design to re-boot the event.
They shared information on Google Drive, identified people they knew and reached out to as many of the event speakers as possible. They aimed to include speakers from a variety of disciplines and ensure that, regardless of discipline, event professionals around the globe heard the same, consistent message.
They spread the word about the re-engineered event, dubbed [CRTL]+[ALT]+[DEL], through their networks and on social media. Within a few days, various industry magazines and blogs were covering the new event.
The result? Roughly 800-1,000 event professionals attended throughout the day. New York ended up being the main base. Fifteen pop-up events with viewing stations were set-up around the globe, including in Atlanta, Vancouver, Edmonton, Calgary, Toronto, Montreal, Cape Town, Amsterdam, London (UK) and Belgium. Each pop-up had its individual website. The RAI Amsterdam and hotel and venue sponsors stepped in to provide viewing locations. AV and event registration suppliers donated their services to make the events happen. Other event professionals accessed the content online.
The main takeaway: Don’t be afraid to ask for help and collaborate. It may save your event.
Change the shape of your event.
If travel expenses are a barrier for a face-to-face event, create a hybrid event with local pop-ups. It’s a design format that can generate excitement and give more people access to great content.
Provide more opportunities for networking or access to experts who address burning issues that participants are facing.
The bottom line: Never be afraid to re-boot your event content and marketing if your current strategies aren’t working.